Casting Crowns began as a student worship band in Daytona Beach, Florida, in 1999. Led by singer, songwriter, and youth pastor Mark Hall, other members at the time included guitarists Juan DeVevo and Hector Cervantes, violinist Melodee DeVevo, and drummer Rob Cervantes.
After two years of service in Florida, Mark Hall and Casting Crowns moved to Eagle's Landing First Baptist Church in McDonough, Georgia. Almost immediately upon arriving, pianist Megan Garrett and bassist Chris Huffman joined the band. A year later, Andy Williams was recruited to replace Rob Cervantes, completing their line up. This new seven-piece version of Casting Crowns released two independent albums as outreach projects for youth in the Atlanta area.
Although Casting Crowns wasn't searching for a record label, one of the group's albums found its way into the hands of Mark Miller, lead singer for country group Sawyer Brown. Struck by their hard-hitting but devout songs, he made Casting Crowns the first signing to his fledgling Beach Street Records. Mark Hall recalled to Crosswalk
in 2004: "The very first conversation we had with anybody about doing this on this level was in late March of 2003, not that long ago. I've been a youth pastor for 12 years at Eagle's Landing First Baptist Church here in McDonough, Georgia. The guys in the band all teach small groups and lead ministries here with me. So it really wasn't something we thought would happen on this scale."
Their eponymous debut album, Casting Crowns, was co-produced by Contemporary Christian singer-songwriter Steven Curtis Chapman and released in 2003 on the Beach Street imprint. The album quickly made them one of the fastest selling debut artists in Christian music history and was certified platinum in 2005.
Casting Crowns' second long player Lifesong resulted in the band's first Grammy Award for Best Pop/Contemporary Gospel Album.
They are one of the few American bands to ever have been invited to North Korea. Casting Crowns have twice, in 2007 and 2009, participated in the country's annual Spring Friendship Arts Festival that is held in North Korea's capital city, Pyongyang.
Casting Crowns' fourth major studio album, Until the Whole World Hears, was released on November 17, 2009, debuting at #4 on the Billboard 200 and selling over 167,000 copies in its first week alone. The first week figures broke the record for the largest selling debut 7 day sales by a Christian artist in Nielsen Soundscan history.
Mark Hall was diagnosed with dyslexia as a child. "I remember going to Sunday school, and they'd put you in that little circle of people and make you read verses 'cause the teacher never studied her lesson," laughed Hall to CBN
. "I started to realize that I couldn't read like everyone else. Scientifically between the page and what my brain says, I lose my spot."
The song "Voice of Truth
" from Casting Crowns' debut album was written around Hall's struggles with learning issues as a child.
Mark Hall has been married to Melanie since the early 1990s. He first met her in fifth grade and the song "Angel
" references the first time he saw her. "I still remember being at church, running around with a bunch of guys, and seeing this big, long car pull into the parking lot," he recalled to NewReleaseTuesday
. "Melanie's family stepped out of the car, and when I saw her, I thought, 'WHO is that?' They were moving to Montgomery, Alabama for her dad to serve as minister of music at our church."
Casting Crowns heard their first single on the radio in July 2003, the same day that Mark and Melanie Hall welcomed their daughter Zoe.
Mark and Melanie Hall adopted a little Chinese orphan girl, Meeka Hope, in 2010. The Halls were accompanied by the wife of Steven Curtis Chapman, Mary Beth, on their trip To China to pick up little Meeka. He wrote the song "So Far to Find You
" about the experience.
According to Melodee DeVevo, Megan Garrett plays the Bassoon very well. She said: "I'm just sad we don't have any bassoon solos in our songs."
The band's lyrics are born out of real life situations, inspired by the many hundreds of students and families Hall has led as student pastor on a weekly basis since 2001 at Eagles Landing Baptist church. Hall describes their music as a "ministry of discipleship."
The seven band members work in student ministry in the Atlanta area, with lead vocalist Mark Hall serving as a full-time youth pastor at Eagles Landing church. They often tour from Thursday to Saturday so that they can be home for church on Sunday morning and Wednesday night.